Expatria · Human Rights · Riding A Dead Horse

5th report on the 9th working group of the draft declaration, september 21, 2003

hello my relations,

i’m sorry that i didn’t send this out on friday but i figured most of you wouldn’t read it until monday anyway so i just took it easy until now. i have had a fabulous weekend! we went to a powwow here in switzerland over the weekend, and although it was not a real powwow (from what i was told), i ended up meeting some fabulous people and had some very strange and beautiful things happen. i even got to meet jim boyd!!!!! wow, it was great! and his show was amazing. what a man. so, i come back to the working group with a renewed sense of purpose and faith that what we are all doing will make things better at some point in the future. patience, i am trying to master patience.

this really will be a brief report as the discussion gets more and more circular as the meeting progresses. on friday morning, the meeting was still discussing preambular paragraph 15 (pp15) and the same arguments came up. south american indigenous peoples, the saami council, indigenous world association, the navajo nation, johar, the crimean tartars, the maori, among others all discussed problems with the nordic proposal and expressed their desire to leave the text as it stands. a few people did support the aila proposal, and there were two indigenous orgs that did in fact support the nordic proposal (again, much to the vocal dismay of other indigenous peoples.) as the morning meeting was left, there were four proposals on the table for pp15, one from the nordic countries, one from guatamala, one from tupaj amaru and one from aila. the guatemala proposal had not been circulated in writing yet, so i am not sure what will happen with that.

the afternoon session moved on to article 31 which states:

“Indigenous peoples, as a specific form of exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, [delete including culture, religion, education, information, media, health, housing, employment, social welfare, economic activities, land and resources management, environment and entry by non-members, as well as ways and means for financing these autonomous functions.] ”

the inuit circumpolar conference, aila, assembly of first nations, saami council, tupaj amaru, the mesquito peoples, the chakma people, the maori, johar, raipon, the intl indian treaty council, and mililani trask all discussed the importance of adopting the article as is. people felt that to remove specific rights would be to diminish the power of the document, and also they noted that many of these are rights that indigenous communities are in fact denied, although all governments could claim that they are provided for in national legislation. although the assembly of first nations and the indigenous world association had specific points such as land and environment that they said must be included, they could let go of all the other points in the text proposed to be deleted.

a few truly notable statements in this discussion were from australia who flat out stated that they do not support the right of indigenous peoples to have their own legal system and control of their own resources. australia further noted that indigenous peoples must consult with the government on any local decisions, and they have an alternate text to propose for the ENTIRE article. wow. the colonial consciousness lives on. the intl indian treaty council pointed out that australia had been in breach of many human rights during their last stay in front of the human rights committee. the uk agreed with australia.

the usa took the floor to discuss how articles 3 and 31 should be merged, but that they had a further amendment which would be given in writing. they proposed the language of ‘internal self-determination’ which would be determined by the state government how far reaching a reality it could become. the usa only supports self-determination if territorial integrity of the state is taken into account. furthermore, they educated all of the indigenous peoples and others that self-determination is not a concrete concept with a solid definition, rather it is an idea that is still evolving. on this basis, the usa will not be able to support any existing articles on self-determination unless all of their language amendments are included. they also wanted to express their outrage that their proposal was considered discriminatory after last year’s working group.

a new proposal is on the table now to add either ‘inter alia,’ or ‘but not limited to’ in place of the word ‘including.’ the chair asked the sponsors to consult in order to harmonize all the proposals.

article 30 was then taken up for discussion:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources,[ including the right to require that States obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. Pursuant to agreement with the indigenous peoples concerned, just and fair compensation shall be provided for any such activities and measures taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact. ]”

the nordic proposal would like to move the text in brackets into the section of the declaration on land rights. devasish, of the chakma people, said that it was fine for the text to be moved, his only concern was that material would be lost in the transmission. canada said that they would not discuss this article until the land rights section came up, and it was not possible to discuss the article as it is. the debate was then postponed by the chair to be discussed when the topic of lands and territories arises.

so that was that. this upcoming week is the last week of the discussions and it seems as though nothing will happen. this idea of consensus means that no government can disagree with the text, really, not one government. if there is dissention then it can cause troubles at the commission on human rights when the draft documents comes up for adoption. ayoh. i don’t even know how this will all resolve, but i do know that there is extensive lobbying going on behind the scenes. i renew my call for prayers from everyone for this process, that a few more articles will be adopted, that there will be some progress with the Obstructor governments, that something good happens. i am thinking of everyone and hoping that you are all well. have a beautiful monday and a great week.

until tomorrow, this is wincincala sending big hugs and prayers for your well-being.

toksa ake,

sezin

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